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STS in Taiwan

March 17, 2013

This week I have spent in Taiwan giving two seminars and familiarizing myself with the Taiwanese STS and environmental studies communities. In Taiwan the only formally organized STS centre is at the medically oriented Yang-Ming University, beautifully situated on the forested hills of northern Taipei, where Professor Daiwie Fu (who among many other things is also the initiator and until recently chief editor of the East Asian Journal of Science, Technology and Society) and the centre’s director Wenji Wang had invited me to present my research on the “nuclear renaissance” in historical perspective. Nuclear power is currently subject to heated debate in Taiwan, with hundreds of thousands of people recently demanding that Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant, which has more or less been completed, not be taken into operation. Today I read in the news that the government regards such a radical potential move “unconstitutional”. In any case, this political debate made it even more appealing to discuss the past and future of nuclear from an STS and history point of view, and I feel strengthened in my conviction that social and historical studies of nuclear power would profit from integrating research on Europe and Asia.

Per in Taiwan 13 March 2013

I was impressed by the Yang-Ming STS group, which turned out to be very dynamic and truly interdisciplinary in a way that made me feel very much at home! Other STS-oriented researchers are active at National Taiwan University and the prestiguous, research-only Academia Sinica. Academia Sinica, as it turned out, also hosts the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China, whose director Paul Jobin also has substantial experience from and interest in nuclear-related issues. At National Taiwan University I did not manage to organize any meeting with the STS researchers, but I met up with Professor Hwong Wen Ma at NTU’s Graduate Institute of Environmental Engineering and gave a guest lecture on “Opportunities and Risks in International Energy Relations” for a group of 50 graduate students. Together with Ming Chih Chuang, who is now with the government, Hwong Wen recently published an excellent article on Taiwan’s energy security, which will be highly interesting also from the perspective of small European countries.

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